Whose marble is it?
In this third early reader about a little anthropomorphic mouse named Penny, Henkes continues to plumb the emotional world of childhood as few author/illustrators can. The story begins with Penny taking a walk and pushing her beloved doll, Rose, in a stroller. She heeds Mama’s admonition that she “[o]nly go as far as Mrs. Goodwin’s house,” and when she arrives there, she spies a shiny blue marble at the edge of the lawn. Though unsure whether she should do so, Penny pockets the glinting little orb and scurries home. Later, Penny’s conscience bothers her, and the marble hidden in her drawer adopts a presence akin to Poe’s telltale heart. She can’t bring herself to tell her concerned parents what is bothering her, and after a fitful night’s sleep, she goes for another walk to return the marble. Hoping to make a quick getaway after surreptitiously replacing it, Penny is worried when her neighbor approaches. Will Mrs. Goodwin be angry that she took the marble? As it turns out, Mrs. Goodwin purposefully put the marble on her lawn in the hope that someone would find it and take it home as a little treasure. Reassured, Penny thanks Mrs. Goodwin and walks home, imagining herself beside a sea as blue as her new marble. Henkes’ characteristically meticulous vignettes both expand the story and provide picture clues to help new readers along.
Another gem. (Early reader. 5-8)